FOOD, Sprouting

My Sprout Grower

This is the sprouter that started it all.

About 5 years ago I picked up this little guy from Mississauga’s VegFest. I was intrigued with the notion of growing something other than herbs on my kitchen counter.  I don’t actually grow herbs, not for a lack of trying, but when it comes to growing things I’m really not all that patient. This is designed like a greenhouse to safely sprout in a day or two.  It is so much fun to watch how they progress and I see it a learning opportunity for my daughter to see how food can be grown without soil and anytime of the year.

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I’m still using it even after being stood on and crushed a few years ago. By my then 4 year old. It just popped back when pushed  into shape.

Yes, I know it’s plastic and these days I am all about reducing the amount we use but I wasn’t thinking about it back then. This is one of those situations where the value of adding sprouts to my daily eating routine takes precedence.  The basket itself is stainless steel. There are many ways to sprout which I have since began exploring but this system is so simple,  efficient, and transportable that it grabbed and still holds my attention. My family is now part of a CSA program with a local company called Four Season Greens so we always have a consistent supply and variety. I still use my Sprout Grower in addition, but to make sure I have enough to make my salads and feed all of us I purchase a weekly supply.

That day I was nostalgic for when my Mom made soy bean sprouts as a kid. She didn’t do it often. I just have this vague memory her growing some soybean sprouts on the kitchen counter. I remember trying some and that wonderful crunchy mouthful of flavor that followed. I bought this new sprouter not knowing much about the benefits of it and micro-greens.  I was more interested in having a new addition to enhance our dishes and salads. The more I read and eat the more evident it becomes that we need to put nutrients back into our diet. We have over processed our food.

This is Tony’s site, the developer of this sprouter. It is chock full of links and information on sprouting and it’s benefits!

http://www.sproutgrowers.com

 

FOOD, Sprouting

Sprout Salads

How could I have not written a post about this yet. My new love of salads thanks to sprouts and micro-greens. Crunchy, crispy, chock full of flavour and goodness. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

About 5 or 6 years ago we went to the vegan fest in Mississauga. That day i came home with a sprout grower that works so efficient and simply. I was blown away by how I could be eating crunchy and tasty sprouts within a day or two. It came with a package of mung beans to get me started. Since then I have been eating, reading and learning sprouts.

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Liquid Handsoap #2!

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I wanted to try a non-foaming liquid soap this time using the same basic ingredients as the one I have been using – Castile soap, water, olive oil and essential oils.  I got a great pump attachment for a mason jar that’s been waiting to be put to good use.  I got it at Masonauve, a Canadian company in Ontario that sells lids and accessories to retrofit Mason/Bernardin jars. Many of us have a few already floating around our homes.

The solution for a regular pump dispenser needs to be thicker so that it won’t run down the pump. I did a bit of research and found that you could change the consistency by adding salt. Who knew?  I tried this and it does work! I didn’t add too much so it only slightly thickened it.

Essential oils aren’t necessary but they do add a nice natural fragrance and depending on the oil it can add some beneficial properties.  This time I thought bergamot oil might be a nice addition. I love the calming smell and it’s one that I have been reaching for a lot lately.  It speeds healing of scratches on skin and is great for reducing inflammation and soothing irritated skin.

  • 1 cup distilled or boiled water
  • 4 tbsp castile soap
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 15 (approx) drops essential oils

I find you can play around with amounts a bit. Start with fewer drops of oil and try it out. You can easily add more to your bottle.

ENVIRONMENT, Zero waste

My Evolving Curbside Pile

My house needs breathing room. Cleaning out the clutter is priority these days and although I have known it for quite some time I have managed to put blinders up and ignore it’s importance. Everywhere I turn now it is mentioned lately. People are jumping on the bandwagon. Between books, articles, podcasts, etc. I can’t escape the reminders. It shouldn’t be that hard but to some it is.

Decluttering, dejunking, minimizing or whatever name you want to use is also about considering the environment.  It is a decision that impacts how much waste we produce. The less stuff we bring in our spaces, naturally there is less packaging, the by-product of purchasing items. This movement that is happening has called attention to something that has been talked about for years and that is the importance of minimizing our environmental carbon footprint.


Household recycling started the ball rolling.  I remember when waste management started adding blue bins into the mix.  It was a learning curve and an exercise in shrinking the pile size of our garbage. Over the years the system has developed and changed. The number of items that can go into our boxes is always improving and so has my diligence in filling it up.

Composting took another chunk out of the pile.  I live in a rural area so I can do my own composting. In the towns around my home there are municipal green bin programs where along with your garbage and recycling is a weekly organics pickup. Every spring the gorgeously fertile soil is available to residences for free, which I think is a great added incentive.

Now it is about reducing the size of my blue bin. When I began using my reusable bags at the grocery store it was amazing how much my recycling pile shrunk. When I began shopping more thoughtfully and sometimes in bulk, it shrunk a bit more. I aim to buy fewer processed items and try to shop at markets during the summer. I try to spend more time on the outskirts of the grocery stores.  The inside aisles are full of cans and processed goods, boxes of cereals, and jars, etc. I still go there because there are things I need and want but I try to use them less often than more because of health and conscious food choices. Recently I began bringing reusable produce bags but it is still hit and miss whether I remember to bring them. sometimes I get there and realize I have left them at home. Buying bulk is another way to cut down on packaging. For snacks and lunches on the go I refill containers from larger packs of food. My next step can be filling containers where I can buy from bulk bins.  More and more businesses are beginning to support this which is a really good thing! It’s an indication of the demand from eco-minded consumers.  Momentum is starting to grow.

 

DECLUTTERING

Waste Not, Want Not

Waste of food, waste of water, waste of stuff for our homes and workplaces. Where does it all go?  I can’t talk about it all at once, it’s just too much.  Cleaning out our spaces is really tough when you’re also trying to minimize the amount of waste and litter that you send out the door.  I’ll be writing posts in the future on different aspects of these so keep an eye out.


Recycle

The recycling program where I live is pretty good.  Most people that live around here have a pretty good handle on sorting out their household trash. I don’t go around checking out everyone boxes but as I am moving about I see most have their blue boxes, green bin (if they live in town), and garbage bags out.  The goal should be to make the bags of garbage less and less each week but for now we still have a three bag weekly limit.

On a recent trip to Halifax, NS  I was reminded of how much can be done and how much further we have to go. The recycling program in Halifax is well developed. Residents have to follow the system or they risk a fine upwards of $200 or not having their waste picked up. They will follow through and leave your pile at the curb if residents don’t take the effort to sort properly.  I have been told it does happen on occasion. In Aug 2015 the Halifax Region Municipality implemented a plan where clear bags are only accepted. Each household is allotted one “privacy” black bag for personal trash. They also have a green cart program. It seemed like a big step but residents adjusted and now it’s second nature.


Plastic Free

I’ve been aiming for less plastic in my home.  If I am going to be honest, I still have a lot.  Some of our water bottles are plastic but they still work and until they break I will use them.  Throwing away things that work fine and are being used just to get something wiser is wasteful. Some plastics in our home are just unavoidable such as parts of our car, lawnmower and appliances. My dish rack is plastic but like a lot of things it is just stuff I have purchased to fill a need. It was during a time when I didn’t care about the things I do now.  Also the cost is a factor.  It will be easier to make these choices as costs come down and availability/variety increases.


Package Free

When shopping aim for minimal packaging.  Biodegradable isn’t also the best either because it still may need to go through a process to break it down. As the volume of our garbage bag diminishes and the blue bins are more and more stuffed you can easily realize how much of what we purchase is actually packaging. recycling our plastics and paper can only take us so far in reducing waste. It is just re-routing where we put out garbage to a certain extent.  It still takes a lot of resources to break it down and turn it into something. How much of it ends up being trashed in the end?


Reuse & Up-cycle

Reusing bags is the most obvious one that comes to mind but also containers, bottles and boxes.  I notice many more people carrying around a refillable water bottle with me instead of buying bottles of water.  Many things can have alternate uses than the original it was made for.


Donate

Send things that can still be useful to another home by giving it away to someone or a company. Some people make a business of refurbishing and selling items such as furniture or appliances.  Recently I saw a charity requesting donations for cast iron ware for them to fix up and sell. What a great idea!

Some places to donate items that come to mind are The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, local community charities and then there are places like the SPCA which need supplies such as towels or food.  Housing and Shelter groups are another place to help out by donating. Make sure to contact your local shelters to find out what needs they have.  In some cases they may even have a pick-up program.


 

I have all this stuff that I don’t need and what it still boils down to is wastage.  We need to buy less and spend more carefully. Be thoughtful of the choices we make when we go shopping for food or clothes.

It is possible to de-junk without being wasteful.  It is just going to take a bit longer but it will be safer and cleaner and an opportunity to save some money.

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Ordinary Days

The small changes that we do in our daily lives will eventually add up to make a significant difference. Every time we make a choice to leave our reusable bags at home instead of putting them to good use at the grocery store it makes an impact. Sometimes I forget and get to the counter and they are out of boxes. I still have a choice of coming back later with my bags but sometimes my load is just to much and I live outside of town, so I am guilty of taking a couple of bags here and there. For the most part I have grown accustomed to always having some or just carrying my items in my hand. I use the example of the bags because it is a switch that many around my area have already made. I still notice a lot of the plastic bags being used but not nearly the amount even 5 years ago. The grocery store I go to is so accustomed to me have bags they are surprised when I don’t. More often than not I get asked in stores if I want a bag and being able to say “no thank you”, without hesitation is becoming easier all the time. That is the goal – to make all these adjustments big and small and make them ordinary.

My list of things is growing. I can’t say its a huge list but I am working on it and my hope is that it evolves as I move along. It really isn’t that hard to make these changes one at a time.

Here are some of the simple switches that I have already made:

Revamping My Cleaning Regime

Hand-Soap

Litterless Lunchbox